If you’re new to living and working in Canada, you may be wondering about the national holidays that will give you days you will have off from work to celebrate with friends, relax, or take an extended weekend vacation. While some of Canadian holidays may be similar to those of your home country, others are unique to the culture and identity of Canada. There are even some special holidays that are specific to one, or just a a few provinces. Here’s a rundown of official Canadian Holidays.
Nationwide Canadian Holidays:
- New Year’s Day: Most likely, this special holiday is celebrated in your home country too. Every year, it falls on the same calendar day: January 1. In Canada, on New Year’s Ever, we like to attend New Year’s celebrations, count down the seconds before midnight, see fireworks and go to festivals, and then, on New Year’s Day, we sleep in and enjoy large breakfasts of brunches. Unfortunately, in Canada, the day of New Year’s Eve is not an official holiday.
- Canada Day: Canada Day is a time to celebrate the birthday of our country. It’s the day that Canada became a new federation and got its own constitution. The holiday is celebrated on July 1, each year. When it falls on a Monday or Friday, people like to get out of town and enjoy a leisurely long weekend. Because it’s a day off for most businesses, plan not to do much shopping on this holiday.
- Labour Day: Falling on the first Monday of September, Labour Day pays tribute to workers and unions, and it is regarded as the unofficial end of summer. Because of that distinction, people often choose to attend or host picnics or barbecues. They may spend the long weekend at the cabin, fishing, swimming and canoeing. While some restaurants and stores may be open for business, banks, libraries, schools and most other businesses and organizations will be taking the day off.
- Christmas Day: This religious holiday is also a federal Canadian holiday, and it’s Canada’s favorite. While it’s the day that Christian families celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, even some non-Christians like to get in on the festivities. People come together with families and friends to eat large meals, exchange gifts, play games and since songs.
- Good Friday: The Friday before Easter Sunday is an official Canadian holiday everywhere except in Quebec. For Christians, it marks the death of Jesus Christ. On this long weekend, observers celebrate the traditions of Easter by painting eggs, and embarking on spring activities. In Quebec, Easter Monday is an official holiday, instead of Good Friday.
- Victoria Day: A unique Canadian Holiday, Victoria Day is celebrated everywhere except Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. It is celebrated on the Monday after May 25 and honors the birth of Queen Victoria. Many also take this day to honor the service men and women who died fighting for Canada.
- National Patriots Day: In Quebec, this holiday is celebrated on the same day as Victoria Day.
- Civic Holiday: Celebrated on the first Monday of August, this holiday has a different name is some of the provinces that celebrate it. This is often the busiest weekend of the summer for travel, as many enjoy the long weekend on vacation. Forms of Civic Holiday are celebrated in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, Nunavut, Saskatchewan, and New Brunswick.
- Thanksgiving: This festive holiday is celebrated nationwide, except in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. Celebrated on the second Monday in October, it’s a time to give thanks for what we have and enjoy a large turkey dinner with friends and family.
- Remembrance Day: Celebrated nationwide, except in Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, on this day members of the Canadian military are commemorated. On this day Canada flags are flown and people observe two minutes of silence to remember fallen soldiers.
- Boxing Day is an official statutory holiday in Ontario only, but retail stores in other provinces may celebrate by holding large sales, so it is a huge shopping day across the nation. It’s named Boxing Day because historically, medieval servants were given a first box on this day.
- Family Day: Celebrated on the third Monday of February in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario, Family Day represents time to spend with our families. In Prince Edward Island, Islander Day is celebrated on this day, and in Manitoba, Louis Riel Day is celebrates on this day.
- St. Patrick’s Day: Observed officially only in Newfoundland, this lively holiday celebrates the culture and religion of Ireland, and it often quite lively. It is celebrated on March 17
- St. George’s Day is celebrated in Newfoundland on April 23. It is celebrated by going to church and holding delicious feasts.
- Fête Nationale celebrates Quebec’s Francophone heritage and culture in Quebec on June 24. Also on this day, Newfoundland celebrates Discovery Day, commemorating the discovery of Newfoundland
- Nunavut Day is held on July 9.